Fifteen of the 21 private schools across the country have agreed to enroll class X students who could not be admitted in public schools on government scholarships.
The education ministry has placed 7,808 of the total 12,033 students who passed the Bhutan Certificate of Secondary Education (BCSE) class X examination 2018 in public higher secondary schools. The government would provide full scholarship to the remaining 4,225 students in these 21 private schools.
Of the 4,225 students, education minister JB Rai said that 2,060 students would be absorbed in the boarding schools while 1,690 would be enrolled as day scholars.
The minister, however, said that six private schools had declined to take up the government’s scholarship offer. The schools are Ugyen Academy, Karma Academy, Early Learning Centre, Druk School, Jampel HSS and Yonten Kuenjung Academy HSS.
Lyonpo said that following a negotiation with the private schools, the ministry has decided to provide full scholarship of Nu 30,000 for day scholars and Nu 50,000 for boarders.
“We’ve been negotiating with private schools for the last few days and they were cooperative and agreed to accept the rate we offered,” lyonpo said. “We looked at all the rates the schools charged and decided to take an average of the fees.”
Lyonpo said that to give these six private schools an equal opportunity to participate in the process, the ministry has kept the admission of the remaining 475 students. Should these students choose to apply in these schools, the government would provide the scholarship amount of Nu 30,000 while the students would have to bear the remaining amount.
“If these schools are unable to absorb all these students, we’ll make sure that they’re absorbed in other public schools,” lyonpo said. “These students could be those who do not have private schools in their vicinity.”
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that all private schools agreed in principle but those who did not agree are those who have spent more in infrastructure, are paying higher salary for quality teachers has made huge investments.
Lyonchhen said that those schools that have not agreed with the ministry would have to wait for students who are willing to pay their fees. These schools would have to maintain the intake capacity of 475 students.
“The scholarship of Nu 30,000 may sound little but when we look at the volume, the schools are getting more students than they used to admit earlier,” Lyonchhen said. “We’ll ask the students to go to respective schools that we’ve identified and boarding students were identified based on the economic background.”
According to the ministry’s instruction, the dzongkhag and thromde education officers would place all eligible students in the most convenient private schools and regions where appropriate either as boarders or day scholars.
The instruction also states that if students opt to study in schools other than those identified by the ministry, they would have to find a school on their own and that the ministry would provide the full scholarship.
“The 15 schools that agreed had over 5,000 seats and we needed 4,225 seats but we kept 475 seats for those who did not agree. It would be wrong to bring down their standards and make them agree to our offer.”
Lyonpo JB Rai said these schools have their own fees and high services, which was beyond the ministry’s capacity.
“But my job as an education minister is to ensure that our children are educated and not left on the streets. The children were our sole focus while taking major decisions,” he said. “We must make them strong, in keeping with His Majesty’s vision of strong people, strong nation.”
The ministry’s instruction also states that if students were unable to find a school, the ministry would facilitate in placing them in another convenient school.
The scholarships however, come with conditions. Once admitted in a school, a student shall not be allowed to change the school unless they do it on their own expense. “If a student refuses to go to a boarding school identified by the ministry, the student would not be provided government scholarship.”
The student would also not get scholarship to repeat if the student fails in class XI or XII. The choice of stream would be left to students, the marks scored and criteria set by the respective schools. The schools should not admit more than the slots allocated and maintain the teacher student ratio of 1:40.
Students are advised to get their placement details from schools they completed class X from.
Yangchen C Rinzin